Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ & the ‘Bible’ of cycling infrastructure

In response to a previous posting about cycling infrastructure in Sefton Borough a Twitter responder (Clive Durdle) pointed me (and indeed Sefton Council) towards something called CROW. Yes, I wondered what it was too but after some Googling I realised it’s pretty much the ‘Bible’ for building cycle friendly/safe roads. And surprise, surprise (NOT) it’s a Dutch publication.

Here’s a blog posting about it:-

therantyhighwayman.blogspot.com/2019/07/crow-flow.html

And here’s a link to the publishers – by gum it’s not cheap!

crowplatform.com/product/design-manual-for-bicycle-traffic/

The new Alt JUnction

Of course, the obvious question is what manual were Sefton Council using when they designed the new junction in Maghull – A59/Northway-Liverpool Road South-Dover Road (The Alt Junction) – as I struggle to see how cycling through this brand new junction was considered at all! Frankly, I’ve yet to hear a good word about it from the pedestrians, cyclists or drivers whom I’ve spoken to. Yes, I realise it’s new and we generally don’t like change so we’re often sceptical about many new things, but this junction could start to become almost as unpopular as its much bigger brother just a few hundred yards away from it – I refer of course to the now infamous Switch Island ‘Home of traffic Accidents’.

The reason this new junction is important is because there are few crossing places across Maghull & Lydiate’s ‘Berlin Wall’ otherwise known as the A59/Northway dual carriageway (and even fewer safe ones) for pedestrians and cyclists. These are they south to north:-

* South end of Maghull adjacent to River Alt – A good pedestrian/cyclist safe crossing with traffic lights.
* The Alt Junction – Brand new but in my view far from being cyclist friendly & it’s a long walk for pedestrians.
* Hall Ln Junction – Pedestrians have high-level bridge to cross but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly(steps).
* Damfield Ln Junction – Another high-level safe walking bridge but it’s disability/cyclist unfriendly (steps again).
* Westway/Eastway Junction – A pedestrian subway which cyclists are discouraged/banned from using.**
* Dodds Ln Junc’ – A good pedestrian crossing with traffic lights separate to the non-traffic lighted junction.
* Kenyons Ln Junction – Traffic lighted but no pedestrian phase & lights often do not recognise waiting cyclists.
* Robins Island – Traffic island with no pedestrian crossing facilities or safe access onto cycle paths.

The distance between the most southerly A59 crossing and Robins Island is @2.25 miles the vast majority of which is through two highly populated suburban communities, except the Kenyons Ln – Robins Island section. What’s more a large proportion of community facilities – Town Hall, Leisure Centre, Library, Frank Hornby Museum, Police Station, Health Centre, Industrial Estate, Recycling Centre, Main Shopping Centre and Lydiate Village Centre – are all on the western side of it. Maghull’s 2 railway stations being on the east side together with 2 of the 3 local high schools*. My point being, there are many reasons why Maghull & Lydiate folk have to cross this busy major road each and every day and the crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are far from adequate.

We all know we should be walking and cycling more to help us to be fitter/healthier and of course to save the planet but the way Maghull & Lydiate has been set up/planned in effect encourages vehicle use simply because of the lack of safe/accessible crossing facilities associated with it’s very own ‘Berlin Wall’.

On that basis why has the most recently rebuilt junction on ‘The Wall’ been built with cycling facilities all but excluded? Has Sefton Council got a copy of CROW and if so is it simply gaining dust on a shelf in some out of the way storeroom?

* The local primary schools are split 4 on the east side, 5 on the west

** The pedestrian only subway looks like this:-

It could be adapted for pedestrians and cyclists like this one in York:-

I would be interested to hear what others think about shared space subways in cycling unfriendly Maghull, Sefton Borough or elsewhere.

Maghull – Cycling the A59 – Alt Junction to Switch Island

I mentioned recently my concerns as a cyclist (and those of pedestrians) about how the Alt junction has been reconstructed and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/26/maghull-a59-alt-junction-reconstruction/

Sefton Council had told me that two additional pieces of work were to be undertaken along with the junction ‘improvements’ to improve cycling access. So far with contractors having left site one has only been partially done and the other has not been done at all.

The major cycling work is to extend the cycle path/route which comes from Switch Island so that it reaches the Alt Junction. Clearly some works have been undertaken but a section over the River Alt bridge has been left just as it was, a narrow pavement – see photo below. Why?*

The other item is such a small change one wonders why it had not been sorted out years ago. It’s at the junction of Moorhey Road and the A59/Northway Service Road where a cycle route starts taking cyclists towards Switch Island. However, at the very start of it there’s no dropped kerb, which I’ve complained about before and been told by Sefton Council it would be attended to during the Alt junction ‘improvements’. So far, as you can see, the job remains outstanding:-

And yes, I’ve brought my concerns about both these matters to the attention of Sefton Council’s Highways Dept.

* After I wrote this posting but before publishing it I became aware of the plans to redevelop the former Motor Range site for an ALDI etc. so the curtailed works to the cycle path/track could possibly be associated with the changes required should that proposal gain planning permission? Just a thought.

Another isolation cycle ride – Lydiate, Maghull, Netherton circular

Farm access bridge over the former Cheshire Lines Railway between the former Lydiate and Sefton & Maghull Stations.

My exercise as we all try to keep safe is solo cycling around the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough and into West Lancs and South Sefton.

One of my recent rides (on a glorious Sunday morning) was from my Lydiate home down the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail from the site of the former Lydiate Station down to the site of the former Sefton and Maghull Station, then on via Old Racecourse Road to regain the path at Meadway. From there through Jubilee Woods to the new Brooms Cross Road and into Netherton joining the A5036 cycle path at Copy Lane and back into Maghull via Switch Island, the A59 (Northway) and local roads and lanes back home. It was 9.5 miles in total.

I took a few photos along the way and here they are:-

I spotted this sign on a tree right next to the farm bridge in the lead photo above. It seems to be part of a trail by Altside Scouts but I’ve not seen any of the others.

Looking north from a bridge over the River Alt. Sefton Church can be made out in the background.

I wonder what the back story is to this road nameplate just off the Northern Perimeter Road in Netherton?

Commemoration boulder at Switch Island

A closer look – It’s Maghull’s very own Cliff Mainey now living in retirement in Maghull’s Gainsborough Avenue.

The road works which have been driving local folk around the bend at the Alt in Maghull. Still more to be done as the junction is upgraded.

I hope I can keep going with my solo cycling around our local lanes, roads, tracks and cycle paths during health crisis. You never know I might detail more of my rides……….

Switch Island – Highways England seem to have stopped celebrating it

Most folk do not walk or cycle around the now infamous Switch Island where the M57 & M58 Motorways join with the A59, A5036 and the new(ish) Brooms Cross Road but it’s quite possible and even safe to do so. Indeed it’s probably safer than driving around it based on the almost daily road traffic accidents that happen there. However, if you do walk or cycle it you will come across this large boulder with 2 metal plaques set into it:-

The plaques record the 1st and 2nd phases of the reconstruction of the junction in 1998 and 2006. But what about the other phases? I think there have been 2 additional ones – one when Brooms Cross Road was joined to it and then very recently when major re-signage and safety changes were made. Now it could be that austerity means there’s no money for additional plaques, or the boulder’s not big enough for additional ones, or despite all the phases and changes the damn thing (the island not the boulder) is a bit of an embarrassment to Highways England so they are trying to keep a low profile? All 3 are, I’m willing to believe, potentially the case of course.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Switch Island – The accident hot spot where the obvious seems to have been all but ignored?

I’m probably getting near to doing this one to death but with Highways England having just spent a few £m on ‘upgrading’ it for safety reasons I’m struggling to see how they have effectively tackled speeding.

To my mind, one of the major issues at this junction has always been the approach speed of vehicles coming off the M57. Yes, I know that unfamiliarity with the junction (by infrequent users) and the complexity of it leads to accidents as well due to drivers veering from lane to lane. And it seems to be this aspect that Highways England has tried to address with new signage (although some say it has made things worse), lane lights etc. BUT the vital speeding aspect has seemingly been ‘addressed’ by just putting up large (and largely ignored) 50mph and 40 mph signs towards the end of the M57. That they are ignored is sadly a given.

The other day I was traveling from Maghull to the Aintree Retail Park so had to cross the end of the M57. As I waited at the lights to cross the M57 traffic two cars literally flew past at goodness knows what speed and the drivers must have been banking on having green lights right through to the junction and onto Brooms Cross Road because the speed they were going meant there was no way they were going to be stopping.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the M57 needs speed cameras at the end of it just like the M62 has at the Liverpool end just before the Rocket junction. So the question Highways England is why has this obvious safety aspect been ignored?

Oh and by the way, having spent all that money how come a street lamp has not been moved out of the middle of the cycle path yet around Switch Island? Highways England were informed of the need to sort this out well before they started the project by me and indeed by Sefton Council’s Rights of Way Officer.

Over to you Highways England…………

With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Switch Island – Lots of public money spent BUT will it be any safer?

Anyone who tries to negotiate the hugely complex Switch Island will have seen that the recent upgrade/safety works by Highways England have all but been completed. The big question now is will it be any safer?

I’ve commented on this matter many times before as both a driver and indeed as a cyclist as I have witnessed driver behaviour.

To sum up, the problems as I have seen them are:-

* Too higher speeds approaching the junction
* Red light running/jumping
* Confused drivers veering from lane to lane
* Impatient regular users not allowing for the confused/lost drivers

One issue that comes quickly to mind is that towards the end of the M57 the speed has recently been reduced to 50mph and then even nearer to Switch Island to 40mph. That these new speed restrictions are almost completely ignored, you will not be surprised to hear, is pretty much all of the time. Indeed, the other day I reached the 50mph section, I slowed to 50 mph and had a horn blown at me because I had slowed down a fellow driver! My point being why are there not speed cameras on the approaches to Switch Island like at the end of the M62 as you near the Rocket in Liverpool?

Oh and another thing, this time from a cyclists perspective. Why have the street lamps which foul the cycle path around one part of Switch Island not been re-sited? Highways England have known about the problem for quite some time now:-